ERIC Number: EJ1017281
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Dec
Abstractor: As Provided
Development of the Biology Card Sorting Task to Measure Conceptual Expertise in Biology
Smith, Julia I.; Combs, Elijah D.; Nagami, Paul H.; Alto, Valerie M.; Goh, Henry G.; Gourdet, Muryam A. A.; Hough, Christina M.; Nickell, Ashley E.; Peer, Adrian G.; Coley, John D.; Tanner, Kimberly D.
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v12 n4 p628-644 Dec 2013
There are widespread aspirations to focus undergraduate biology education on teaching students to think conceptually like biologists; however, there is a dearth of assessment tools designed to measure progress from novice to expert biological conceptual thinking. We present the development of a novel assessment tool, the Biology Card Sorting Task, designed to probe how individuals organize their conceptual knowledge of biology. While modeled on tasks from cognitive psychology, this task is unique in its design to test two hypothesized conceptual frameworks for the organization of biological knowledge: 1) a surface feature organization focused on organism type and 2) a deep feature organization focused on fundamental biological concepts. In this initial investigation of the Biology Card Sorting Task, each of six analytical measures showed statistically significant differences when used to compare the card sorting results of putative biological experts (biology faculty) and novices (non-biology major undergraduates). Consistently, biology faculty appeared to sort based on hypothesized deep features, while non-biology majors appeared to sort based on either surface features or nonhypothesized organizational frameworks. Results suggest that this novel task is robust in distinguishing populations of biology experts and biology novices and may be an adaptable tool for tracking emerging biology conceptual expertise.
Descriptors: Biology, Scientific Concepts, Concept Formation, College Science, Evaluation Methods, Test Construction, Knowledge Level, Classification, Measurement Techniques, Majors (Students), College Faculty, Undergraduate Students, Expertise
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A